Former senator and current head of the Motion Picture Ass. of America Chris Dodd hopes to resurrect the reviled SOPA anti-piracy legislation in another form, but it appears the US House of Representatives is beating him to it a new bill that makes SOPA look sensible.
Dodd, speaking in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, said that he hopes to get a new version of the SOPA legislation ready for debate shortly, and that the MPAA was marshaling its forces for another attack on piracy. Dodd said he was confident that the new legislation would go through, and said there are those in the technology industry who support such laws.
"I regret that Steve Jobs isn't around today. At least he understood the connection between content and technology," Dodd said. "The fellow who started eBay, Jeff Skoll, gets it. There are not a huge number of people who understand that content and technology absolutely need each other, so I'm counting on the fact that there are people like Jeff and others who are smart and highly respected in both communities. Between now and sometime next year [after the presidential election], the two industries need to come to an understanding."
Dodd also let slip some interesting snippets on the arrest of Kim Dotcom, who is currently awaiting extradition over charges related to the Megaupload file-sharing site. The MPAA chieftain quoted a discussion with an unnamed Justice Department official whom he met at his daughter's school, who said that the DoJ had been waiting for Dotcom's birthday party before striking, so that the team behind Megaupload would all be present.
Dodd refused to criticize President Obama for his expressions of concern over the SOPA legislation, saying he was confident the president would address the needs of both Hollywood and those concerned with internet privacy. However, a bill currently being considered by the US House of Representatives could make the SOPA legislation look positively idyllic.
The bill, HR 3523, dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), was introduced by representatives Mike Rogers (R-MI) and "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-MD) in November, and is currently attracting serious political support. CISPA would allow any federal agency to request internet and communications logs of individuals from their service provider, and guarantees immunity from prosecution for companies that cooperate with the government.
"Under the bill," wrote Greg Nojeim, senior counsel to the Center for Democracy and Technology in a blog post, "when communications data is shared with the government, it could be used to prosecute an individual for any crime, used to target him or her for intelligence surveillance, and shared among governmental agencies to the extent permitted by current law and used by those agencies for any lawful non-regulatory governmental purpose. The bill itself places no limits on secondary use or dissemination of unclassified cyber threat information. Under the bill, the data can even be used to target advertising."
The bill states that such information could only be requested for a "cyber security purpose," but leaves the definition of this concept unspecified, and adds that security need not be the only reason for data to be handed over. The data can be made anonymous, but that's only voluntary for those companies handing it over.
What with the forthcoming ACTA vote this summer in the European Parliament, and with SOPA back in the cards and CISPA now on the table, it looks to be a busy year for online-privacy activists. ®